Gleaming Spires_Artist Bio

If, as JFK once said, “History is a relentless master – it has no present, only the past rushing into the future” then GLEAMING SPIRES are the perfect sonic embodiment of the recent past making a bold leap into then-unknown and unchartered waters. Theirs was sophisticated pop music sent out across the airwaves for future historians to rediscover. GLEAMING SPIRES began life during America’s post-punk new wave. A time of bold dreams and brilliant ideas. Life and colour. Escapism. Leslie Bohem (vocals, bass, synths) David Kendrick (drums) were invited by Ron and Russell Mael to become part of Sparks’ touring band. It was while in Munich, on tour, that they formed GLEAMING SPIRES.

A quintessential LA band, early recordings were cut between Sparks tours with Stephen Hague (New Order, Pet Shop Boys) before they signed to Posh Boys Records on the strength of their intended 1981 B-side ‘Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?’. The sound of Bowie / Devo reborn into Stateside shopping mall culture, or perhaps an imaginary soundtrack to an early Bret Easton Ellis novel, it became an unexpected KROQ hit, featured on the soundtracks to both The Last American Virgin (1982) and Revenge Of The Nerds (1984) and became a particular favourite in sleazy neon-lit strip clubs. (The band would also later contribute music to the porno series The Devil in Miss Jones). Filmed when MTV was its most embryonic, the single’s accompanying video featured Bohem and Kendrick prosaically baking a lemon meringue pie.

GLEAMING SPIRES’ 1981 debut Songs Of The Spires (“the album every teenage girl is talking about”) exuded a distinctive brooding romanticism and literate approach to lyricism that should rightly have rocketed them into the upper echelons of the 80s pop’s hierachy. Yachts, cocktails and ice-eyed supermodels reclining in Bel-Air mansions seemed tantalisingly within their grasp…
But pop is fickle and perhaps they were just too arch and satirical to conquer the world. For theirs was the sound of pop taking its first bites out of itself. Where the likes of Talking Heads and Sparks flourished, Gleaming Spires inexplicably floundered. Perhaps it was because they created wry pop oddities with commercially-challenging titles like ‘A Christian Girl’s’ Problem’, ‘The Making Love Project’ and ‘Funk For Children’. Or perhaps the music industry simply didn’t consider them accessible enough. Nevertheless Gleaming Spires went onto release further fantastically under-rated and era-defining albums: Walk On Well Lighted Streets (1983) and Welcoming A New Ice Age (1985).

Heard today however the output of GLEAMING SPIRES is like opening a well-concealed time capsule. The contents are as box-fresh and vibrant as when they were buried beneath the landslip of attendant pop culture that they so clearly influenced. Displaying a musicality not always associated with the perceived disposability of new wave yet deftly delivered without the burgeoning cynicism associated with the latter days of the 80s, this is simply pop at its brilliant best.


GLEAMING SPIRES > ‘How To Get Girls Thru Hypnotism’ from Songs Of The Spires